For many businesses, the year end is a time for setting objectives and writing plans for the following year. Historically business plans are a ‘fund raising’ exercise used in the following situations:

  1. You want to start a business
  2. You own an established business and are looking to get help
  3. You need to redefine your objectives
  4. You need to plan for / predict the future
  5. You want to raise money

But if you have all the funding you need, do you still need to write a business plan?

Well, we’d argue yes! A business plan is so much more than a tool for attracting investment: It can help you understand what the key levers are for driving your business forward. It can help you monitor progress, be a tool for holding yourself accountable and help you monitor and control the business’s results.

Writing out your business plan each year, forces you to review everything at once: your business and brand proposition, your marketing assumptions, your operations plan, your financial plan and your staffing plan. It will help you test your assumptions and force you to ask questions about the feasibility of your plans. If your staffing levels cannot physically handle the number of customers that you plan to attract, you might conclude that forming partnerships, targeting distributors and concentrating on bulk sales to large companies would be your best strategy.

As part of your operational plan, you’ll set out your primary marketing and operational milestones. When you’re the founder, the only person holding you accountable to those results is you. So, your plan becomes a baseline for monitoring your progress.

Rather than simply being an after-the-fact learning exercise, a business plan is a tool that will help you drive the future. When you write, “We expect 100 customers by the end of year one,” it’s not a passive prediction. You can’t expect to just wait for the customers to show up! It becomes your sales force’s goal. The plan lays out targets in all major areas: sales, expense items, hiring positions and financing goals. Once laid out, the targets become performance goals.

Have you written your business plan for 2017?

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